'The slip'

Trent Reznor is an unhappy camper

The Slip
Composer: Nine Inch Nails
Conductor: Nine Inch Nails
Label: The Null Corporation
Release Date: 2008-08-06
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Length: LP
Format: Album
Genre: Goth/Industrial

On The Slip, NIN’s most fulfilling release since 1994’s The Downward Spiral, a bulked-up (and sober) Trent Reznor returns to the dance-flavored, angry-as-fuck industrial arena rock all-too-absent from Spiral follow-ups like The Fragile and the well intentioned but flawed concept album Year Zero. The Slip, a 10-track, 44-minute barrage of vintage Nine Inch Nails, is fluid, technically sound, and on occasion, highly experimental.

And it won’t cost you a dime.

Released in early May on the band’s website without so much as a hint of its arrival, The Slip is available free of charge at nin.com, while physical copies of the album were released late last month.

I say album because The Slip — in today’s era of downloadable singles — actually feels like an album. From the opening track — the haunting instrumental, “999,999” — and right on through the album-closing “Demon Seed,” The Slip flows with ease, precision, and, most importantly, purpose.

From radio-tailored tracks like “Letting You” and “Discipline” — the latter of which is, not so surprisingly, the album’s first single — to the mellow, whisper-voiced “Lights in the Sky,” The Slip — in true NIN fashion — runs the emotional gamut. And, perhaps taking a cue from NIN’s 36-track instrumental release, Ghosts I-IV — released online earlier this year — three of The Slip’s standout tracks (“999,999,” “Corona Radiata,” and “The Four of Us Are Dying”) feature nary a word.

NIN will likely never release another career-defining album like Pretty Hate Machine or The Downward Spiral, but in today’s age of money-driven reunion tours, lagging record sales, and single-digit mainstream-radio playlists, it’s reassuring to know that someone — especially a musical mastermind like Reznor — is at least giving it his best shot.

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